Child support may be modified if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing child support order and the amount of support that would result from the application of the Massachusetts child support guidelines. Massachusetts General Laws, c. 208, §28. There is a rebuttable presumption that the application of the guidelines will result in the appropriate amount of child support. Further, additional bases for modifying child support are also available, including a need to provide for the health care coverage of the child.
A modification is obtained by filing a Complaint for Modification of Child Support and a current financial statement. The court may order a modification of child support retroactive to the date that notice of the Complaint was given but not prior to that date. Massachusetts General Laws, c. 119A, §13. If the payor suffers a decrease in income and is unable to pay child support as ordered by the court, he/she must immediately file and serve a Complaint for Modification in order to obtain relief. Otherwise, arrearages will accrue.
To the extent that the current child support order represented a deviation from the guidelines at the time it was made, a modification may still be sought in order to make the award commensurate with the guideline amount. In that event, the court will determine whether the facts which gave rise to the deviation still exist, whether the deviation continues to be in the child’s best interests, and whether the guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.